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Effect of processor on Internet browsing

mikethebook

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 30, 2010
120
14
I'm running Sierra on a later 2009 Mac Mini with a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor which must be fairly slow by now. I have limited needs of a computer and so, for the most part, it works fine for me. Mostly I'm using word processing but I am on the Internet a lot. But, despite having 8 GB of RAM, an SSD and 30 Mbps of broadband, many browser pages load very slowly. I'm wondering to what extent processor power affects Internet browsing and whether, with the increasing sophistication of web pages, my computer is beginning to struggle in this area. I have a limited budget but have been toying with upgrading to a refurbished 2012 Mac Mini with an i5 or i7 processor.
 

ddmcnair

macrumors member
Apr 25, 2011
63
11
There are many variables at play here. 1st: If you have upgraded and upgraded, a clean install of Sierra, might help. 2nd: 30 Mbps, isn't bad, but you did mention your ISP, or if you are connected to your router via a wire or Wi-FI connection (Wired is faster.). 3rd: Your web browser version and extensions can also impact performance. I would recommend Firefox, and if you are using Firefox, doing a refresh might help.

Lastly the i5 or i7 with an SSD, yep, that would very much help. You could also update to 10.13 with the 2012 Mac Mini.

Hope this helps!
 
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jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,979
526
Processor speed has very little to do with browser performance today.

Nor does hard disk/SSD speed, or RAM.

What matters:

- bandwidth
- latency
- garbage websites that load a zillion scripts and a zillion images below the fold that you will never look at


Check CPU usage with Activity Monitor. I think you will find it's close to zero.

Keep in mind that Activity Monitor reports CPU in percentage of ONE core. So, max would be 200%. (Actually, a bit more with hyperthreading.)

- hardwired will give you better latency than wifi
- at your Internet speed, wifi is unlikely to be a bandwidth problem
- mobile connections (e.g. LTE) have high latency (but not an issue here)

Are you having trouble with particular sites? Exactly how does browsing seem "slow"?

Check Activity Monitor to see if there is some OTHER application hogging the CPU.
 
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Moakesy

macrumors 6502
Mar 1, 2013
447
939
UK
Also check if you are actually getting anything close to your 30Mb you are paying for. Google broadband speed checker and test it. It’s not 100% accurate, but gives an idea of what you’re getting. Simply doing a power reboot of your router can sometimes help.

I was paying for 50mb before and was lucky if I got over 15Mb, so I changed supplier.
 
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mikethebook

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 30, 2010
120
14
Thanks for your replies. My computer is hardwired through the use of Homeplugs and when tested I do seem to be round about 30Mb. Latency may be a factor though I don't understand it. We can't yet get fibre broadband where we are, so have to use extremely expensive satellite broadband/telephone and there is a delay on the phone. Would that affect my browser's performance? I'm using Chrome which I thought was probably the fastest browser but I'll experiment with Firefox.

When I say slow, some sites seem to only partially load, then reload and reload until eventually I get the whole thing.

If processor speed is not a major factor in browser performance and my computer usage is limited mainly to word processing then I'm guessing that an upgrade in computer/processor is not strictly necessary and that the SSD and 8 GB RAM is probably enough for my needs. Correct?
 
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Toutou

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2015
673
958
Prague, Czech Republic
Latency may be a factor though I don't understand it. We can't yet get fibre broadband where we are, so have to use extremely expensive satellite broadband/telephone and there is a delay on the phone.
That's your answer. Satellite is usually okay bandwidth-wise, but latency is what kills your experience. The same delay that affects your phone calls affects the data transfers. After your browser fetches the first response from the web server (i.e. the actual webpage), it reads it and fires more (tens or hundreds) requests for different assets that are supposed to be on the page (scripts, images etc.), and while most of these are dispatched asynchronously (i.e. almost all at once), some of them may be sequential in nature (e.g. the page requests a stylesheet, the stylesheet refers to an image, or the page contains a script that in turn loads different assets or even whole page elements from different places all over the internet), and these would result in the page loading feeling slow. And that would mean your CPU has the least to do with this — most of the time it sits there, idling, waiting for something to arrive over the satellite connection.
 
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mikethebook

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 30, 2010
120
14
Thanks very much. It only occurred to me after I'd written the thread. My wife and I live in an idyllic spot but fibre hasn't got here yet and all anyone can offer via a phone connection is a maximum of 5 mb. Maybe we'll get fibre this year. I think we're fairly close.
 
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jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,979
526
all anyone can offer via a phone connection is a maximum of 5 mb.

This may actually provide a better browsing experience than a 30Mb satellite connection.

Give it a try, or find a neighbor who has it.

Bandwidth is how fat the pipe is.

Latency is how long it takes for the bits to get from one end of the pipe to the other.

Complex websites (and MOST are TOO complex...) depend on low latency for any kind of decent experience.

I have a 1GB Webpass (Google Fiber) connection, and there are sites that feel "slow" to me. They are garbage sites. But most sites are garbage sites. Layer upon layer of duplication added by wave upon wave of overseas outsourced labor. It's like having another layer put on your roof...
 
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